Warming up and Stretching Before Exercise

There are some common misconceptions about warming up and stretching before exercise. This is particularly so in regard to stretching. The experts are still arguing a bit about stretching before exercise, but it is safe to consider what the expert practitioners are doing these days.

I suppose this is actually quite easy to say. Most experts are saying to not stretch before doing a workout. Instead they advocate warming up somehow. How exactly, you ask? A light jog is always a good warm-up, and I find that about ten minutes (in decently warm weather) is good enough to get me going.

The experts are also saying that warming up the specific muscles you will be using in the sport or exercise you will be doing is a good idea. I agree. If you are going to play tennis, then warming up by easily hitting the ball back and forth with a partner for ten minutes or so is a good option.

I like to do what I call loosening up as opposed to stretching. After warming up, or during my warm up, I will do arm circles, squat and very lightly stretch or whatever. I find that this gets my blood flowing to my muscles. This is what you want. As I am getting older, I also find the tendons need attention and warming up. In fact, I think my tendons often take longer to get warm and stretchy.

Whatever it is you do to get ready for exercise or sport, the main idea here is to properly warm up. It will help you prevent injury and perform better at the beginning of you routine or game. Traditional stretching should be reserved for after your exercise session. Stretching before you exercise has been found to make you slower and weaker.

I would also like to note that when you are more active, you will likely notice that your warm-up time is less than when you are not in as good of shape. I guess that is just another reason to stay and/or get into great shape!

Why Shouldn’t You Stretch Before a Workout?

The experts say that stretching your cold muscles is like stretching a rubber band that is way too cold. As a rubber band warms up, it becomes more stretchable. You muscles are the same way. Also, static stretching is like extending a rubber band to its limit. When you do this and then workout, you increase your chances of pulling a muscle.

Traditional stretches can also cause your muscles to tighten as opposed to relaxing. You definitely do not want to start a difficult workout session by tightening your muscles.

So stretching after a workout or at the end of the day is fine. Static stretching can help you become more flexible. Stretching after a workout helps your muscles workout that impending soreness. Before you stretch after that workout though, be sure to get a proper cool down in. Especially during intense exercise, your muscles will recover better if you take at least 15 minutes to cool down by walking or doing some other light activity. Then you can stretch. After that you can eat. And finally you can get on with your life. Oh, a shower may be a good idea too!